From left, Senate candidates Georgene Faries, Randy Hayden, Elizabeth Scott, Keith Wagoner and Robert Zimmerman.

From left, Senate candidates Georgene Faries, Randy Hayden, Elizabeth Scott, Keith Wagoner and Robert Zimmerman.

Five Republicans seeking open state Senate seat

Kirk Pearson resigned earlier this month to accept a job in the Trump administration.

OLYMPIA — Five Republicans are vying to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Kirk Pearson, who resigned earlier this month to accept a job in the administration of President Donald Trump.

Pearson, a Monroe resident, resigned Nov. 12 from his seat in the 39th Legislative District to become state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office.

The quintet seeking to succeed him are former state lawmaker Elizabeth Scott, Sedro-Woolley Mayor Keith Wagoner, ex-Monroe Mayor Robert Zimmerman and party activists Georgene Faries and Randy Hayden.

The first step of the appointment process will occur at 7 p.m. Thursday at Hadley Hall in Arlington. That’s when Republican precinct committee officers (PCOs) in the legislative district will meet and nominate three people for the position.

Because the 39th Legislative District encompasses portions of Snohomish, Skagit and King counties, the elected council members and commissioners of all three will collectively choose one of the nominees. That meeting could take place as early as the first week of December. The appointed person will serve through the November 2018 election.

There are roughly 40 precinct officers from Skagit and Snohomish counties eligible to vote. There are two King County precincts in the district but neither one is represented by a PCO.

For Scott, Faries and Zimmerman, this will be a familiar process.

In September, they were among the six Republicans seeking to fill the vacancy created in the House when John Koster stepped down to become executive director of the County Roads Administration Board.

Scott and Faries were the top two choices of precinct officers. But the county officials chose the third nominee, Carolyn Eslick, who was mayor of Sultan at the time. She has since resigned the city post to focus on her legislative duties.

Scott served two terms in the House in the 39th district. She was first elected in 2012 and won re-election in 2014. In 2016, she decided to run for Congress rather than seek a third state term. But she contracted whooping cough in the spring and ended her congressional campaign in May 2016 due to unspecified health reasons. She’s healthy now and seeking to get back into politics.

Faries, of Arlington, a precinct committee officer, is in her fourth year as president of the Evergreen Republican Women and is the vice chairwoman of the 39th Legislative District Republicans. If chosen, she would be holding her first political office.

Zimmerman, the former Monroe mayor, came in fourth behind Eslick in the House appointment process.

He served on the Monroe City Council for two terms before getting elected mayor in 2009. After one term, he chose not to seek re-election. In 2012, he ran for a House seat in the 39th Legislative District but finished third in the primary behind Scott and Democrat Eleanor Walters.

Wagoner, a retired U.S. Navy commander, was elected mayor of Sedro-Woolley in 2015. Before that he served five years on the City Council. In a note to the PCOs, he cites his civic experience as a critical attribute.

“I understand local government; which means I understand government,” he wrote. “Having served on the city council and as mayor, I know what it takes to work with diverse groups to reach constructive consensus and I have done it effectively and consistently to the benefit of my constituents and community.”

Hayden, who owns a construction business, is a precinct committee officer and represents the Snohomish County Republican Party on the executive board of the state Republican Party.

He recently moved to Darrington from Edmonds, where he had run for a seat in the state House and on the Edmonds City Council.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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